Human Resources News & Insights

A new look at new-hire orientation

Showing them where the coffee machine is and how to operate the copier is a fine start. But these days it takes a little more from a manager to help rookies get off the mark quickly.

Executive coach Maureen Moriarty suggests managers use a new-hire checklist to cover all the key aspects: 

  • Send out an e-mail notice before the new hire’s arrival date, with some background information about the new hire so staff will be better prepared to offer a sincere, “welcome” on arrival day.
  • Provide new employees with an orientation document covering your workplace policies. Better still, if available, direct them to a policies FAQ intranet intranet page as a resource. Include any details you think necessary, such as dress codes insurance options and holidays.
  • Choose trainers and mentors carefully. Consider whether the person is a good match for the new hire, personally and professionally, and whether that person has an optimistic attitude about the organization.
  • Hold off on the paperwork, if possible. Immediately flooding a new hire with forms and other dry stuff can be a downer the first day – when you’re trying to create an “up” experience. Let the person settle in a day or two before dropping off the required company forms.  
  • Schedule a Q&A day. Tell the new hire that you’re going to visit and chat after the first several days on the job, and mention that it would be a good idea to have some questions ready for you. That lets the person know that questions are welcome – and even encouraged.
  • Communicate about communication. In some companies, e-mail is the standard way to communicate with the boss and co-workers. Other companies prefer face-to-face. Let the new hire know the preferred way in your organization: e-mails, quick stand-up meetings, shouting over the cubicle wall, etc.
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  1. I disagree with the suggestion about waiting a day or two to complete new hire forms and paperwork. Some forms, such as the I-9, must be completed within the first 3 days of employment–better to find out if there are issues sooner rather than later. Also, the paperwork is vital to getting employees set up in the payroll system. My organization has multiple worksites, so it’s just not feasible to wait either. Instead, we’ve structured our first-day new hire orientation around completing the paperwork. Every new employee comes to the main office on their very first day for an introduction to the organization, to complete the paperwork, learn about benefits, and to go over policies and our Intranet resources. The bottom line is that you should have a new hire orientation, which is exactly what the article is saying.

  2. Good points on the multiple sites HR Girl, I’m facing something similar. My question is how do you do this when you are seasonal? We go from 100 employees to 400 during the seasonal ramp up and I’ve got new hires in many locations, some of which are not easily accessible. We are starting to come to the end of my first season and this year was a mess I’d rather not repeat.

  3. Scott – I would recommend doing group new hire orientations if you don’t do those already. You can do it as one large group, or group them by location. We do that for our seasonal employees. You can also try mailing out (or e-mail) the new hire forms to the new employees’ homes before they start and have them send the completed forms back to you. Of course, you will still need to see their identification for I-9 purposes, but that at least takes care of most of the paperwork. Hope that helps!

  4. Scott – if it’s possible, you could train a supervisor or lead at each of the worksites to be your “assistant” during the seasonal ramp-up. Teach the person how to properly complete all of the new hire forms, then provide him/her with plenty of new hire packets. We also send out an email to the new employee before their first day with instructions on where to attend the orientation and which documents and information to bring with them. Since you have so many seasonal employees, you could supply a generic welcome letter to hiring managers with the same information about documents, etc., and hand them out when the person accepts the job. (I am assuming many of these people are hired on the spot.) Good luck!

  5. If I get enough notice, I mail out the I-9 form with the listing of acceptable documents to the new employee with a request to bring the appropriate documents on their first day. We’ve only had one that had to scramble the 2nd day to bring them in. The rest of the paperwork is usually done the first day, although if I know there is another one coming that week I may schedule them together. I also handle getting them set up on the payroll system, so it’s usually wisest to do all the initial paperwork on their first day.

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